Postcard from Norway

by David Henry

STORD, Norway — Alta laughed as she said “Kjetil, you sound just like my husband!”

One of the cool things for me as a driver has always been meeting and listening to other drivers from all over North America. I’ve also talked to many foreigners who have come to drive over here.

Recently, on vacation in Norway, I thought it would be great to go look at their trucks and possibly talk to a current driver. Several phone calls were made on my behalf and we arranged to meet Kjetil at his terminal.

Kjetil Hagevik Ragde
Kjetil Hagevik Ragde

Kjetil Hagevik Ragde is a 42-year-old driver who lives near Stord, Norway, which is on an island on the west coast. Stord is a centre for many oil companies that have offshore rigs in the North Sea. He is a multi-talented guy who drives a truck because he loves it. It’s a low status job, with decent pay, but when you work out the hourly pay it’s not so good.

The company he drives for, Transportsentralen Nord-Rogaland (TNR) has him on a scheduled run between Stord and Oslo. The distance is only about 400 kms but it takes him seven hours because it is very mountainous and the roads are only two lanes. Overall his round trip is 1,000 kms. I drove on this road and it’s similar to driving between Hope and Kingsgate, B.C., except that the pavement is smoother and the elevations are higher.

As with companies and drivers here, who have a good safety record, he never has trouble with the inspectors (DOT) and speaks highly of the officers.

Some DOT rules:

  • Electronic logs are used with a personal driver key that contains their information. The driver inserts this key into the logging device. At the end of the day he prints out the log and signs it, along with any notations such as: delayed by bad weather, accident, etc.
  • 57 hours per week are permitted for two weeks. The third week needs to be less.
  • The driving shift consists of 4.5 hours driving, then a 45-minute break, then another 4.5 hours of driving.
  • If they go over by 45 minutes drivers will get a warning, but if it happens several times they will get a fine. Ragde knows of a driver who got a fine of 50,000 K ($10,000 approx). If it’s a really blatant offence they’ll lose their licence.

Truck spec’s:

  • Nineteen-metre long truck and pup.
  • Nine tonne front axle
  • Eighteen-tonne tandem axle (duals)
  • GVW of 50 tonnes. Greater than 52 tonnes will result in a mandatory court appearance.
  • Automatic transmissions. There’s no driveline warranty on a truck with a manual transmission.
  • 500 HP
  • Transmission has a GPS sensor that will adjust power and gears according to where he is. For instance, as when he’s about to climb a hill the truck knows this and automatically shifts down and applies power.

What was Alta laughing about? Like me, he uses a dash cam in his truck to protect himself against poor drivers and is passionate about cleaning up the industry. He cares deeply about being a professional and excelling in his job. He is smart, educated, speaks and presents well, and a credit to his company. (Okay, maybe Alta is biased when considering me some of those things).

Kjetil Hagevik Ragde
Kjetil Hagevik Ragde

I spent three hours with Ragde and it flew by. I have since e-mailed him several times and come away with this thought: Despite not wanting to ever have multiple trucks again and the responsibility of dealing with employees, if Ragde told me he was coming to Canada and wanted a job, I’d go buy a truck for him tomorrow!

David has over 30 years of experience driving anything from off-road tractors to highway tractors. He is passionate about promoting a positive image of our industry through writing and being the best driver he can be on the highways. He drives on the NWT Ice Roads, attends as many truck shows and convoys as possible and competes yearly in the Manitoba Truck Driving Championships. You can follow him on Twitter at: @crazycanuckdave


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